Election Integrity

I was asked in a round about way my position on how we Alabamians can ensure our elections have integrity.

My recommendation for ensuring election integrity is that the Legislature should mandate post-election procedural audits so that the public knows that election administrators have conducted their election according to state and federal laws and regulations.

I have long said during my near-25-year career in the Secretary of State’s office that our elections can have integrity only if the election administrators faithfully comply with the laws and regulations that govern our elections.

If members of the public believe that election officials themselves are doing the wrong thing, even if unintentionally, those people will lose faith in elections.

In calling for these procedural audits, I’m in no way alleging that Alabama’s election administrators have performed in any way other than professionally and honorably. My experience over many years with probate judges, absentee election managers (who are predominantly circuit clerks), sheriffs, members of the boards of registrars, and city and town clerks, is that they perform their duties with integrity and are committed to serving their voters well.

However, it is not necessarily enough to speak of professionalism, honor, integrity, and commitment. Some Alabamians seem to have a kinship with Missourians, who, a long time ago, adopted as their state motto “Show Me”!

From what I have seen, the election administrators I have worked with for over 24 years have always stood ready to show their constituents what they do. They take their responsibilities as election officials seriously and perform their duties with pride.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Alabama is one of six states that do not require any kind of post-election audit. Our legislature should remedy that situation.

In 2021, to its credit, the Alabama Legislature did pass legislation to require a pilot program for a post-election audit in the 2022 general election. That pilot will involve three counties. We, including members of the Legislature, can and should learn from this pilot program.

Election administrators are not the only people, though, that can help us have faith and confidence in our elections. All of us, as voters in our Great State of Alabama, have a role in ensuring election integrity.

While we may not all be official poll watchers representing a candidate or a political party, we all see what happens at our polling place. If you see something that raises your eyebrow (especially if it raises both eyebrows!), never hesitate to talk to your probate judge (in county-run elections), your city or town clerk (in municipal elections), or the Secretary of State or Attorney General about it.

Whoever you contact can assess whether what you saw was consistent with election laws and regulations. If what you saw is consistent with election laws and regulations, perhaps they can set your mind at ease. But, if what you saw is not consistent with election laws and regulations, they can advise you of what additional steps, if any, are needed to begin an investigation.

As law enforcement often advises the public, if you see something, say something. And do so promptly, especially on Election Day, so that the situation can be addressed as quickly as possible.

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